Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Choice and Experience vs. "Poof" and Hope

Take a Letter:


30 January 2008

Dear “Jews-for-Jesus” Activist David,

We fundamentally disagree on human existence. Science vs. "Poof". And yet we both stood stubbornly and staunchly behind our beliefs in debate—for 45 minutes, on the corner of Spruce and Park Row.

It is no shock to myself of this occurrence, as I’ve been doing it for years. In front of the Supreme Court and Macy’s Herald Square over abortion; the Federal Court House in New York City in defiance of conservative judicial nominees; at Ohio State University defending John Kerry; and even on Broadway in my home town while holding “Gore/Lieberman” signs. Each event came with lengthy, raucous banter that went on for sometimes over an hour. The list, of course, goes on. But you, sir, were different. And because of it, so was I.

Now, I say this still having no comprehension or even respect for your view, as it is far from tangible. However, your approach, delivery, and retorts were all enthusiastically presented in a pleasant, reserved, and non-derogatory manner. To this I say cheers because you were the first one I have not yelled with and at, and—I only cursed ONCE! That says something. Furthermore, I continued to remain calm when I decided to dapple with homosexuality as a topic. And as I’m sure even you have dappled with the thoughts of and even actions of homosexuality, I somehow remained steadfastly assertive yet calm in response to your Bible-based belief. That is unlike me.

Just ask the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westborough Baptist Church, his wife, or even three of his ten children—they’ve certainly heard from me on the same issue.

Let me also say that only one of the conversation’s I had with a Phelps’ family member went on civilly for more than ten minutes. Naturally though, flames were thrown as soon as I disclosed I was not a supporter but in fact a homosexual student seeking information for a negatively exploitive presentation. How savvy and cunning I can be.

But I steered from that with you, David.

And though I did not go without my one-liners and slippery jabs, I remained relatively cool whilst discussing an incredibly fiery topic: human existence, religion, and choice—which of course we lumped into one. To be quite frank, in light of our discourse, I’ve found holes in my argument. And I’m glad, because they are all fillable.

It always shocks me, the people like you, out on the street who push and promote views, be they intolerant or otherwise. I wonder why you do it and what you expect to accomplish. But then here I am: a defiant, rather out-spoken, opinionated, quick individual who pounces on the very opportunity you present. For that I thank you and hate you.

You’re comfortable being confined by a fabulously fictitious text; I, David, am not. Nor should anyone have to be.

I thank you for your time, respect, and pleasantries. But I do not thank you for your existence as a human being.

I find it counter productive.

Good luck with your future and do continue to be wary and stress over something one has the ability and right to do: Choose.


Jeffrey LeFrancois


Well I just had to get that off my chest. I wonder if I'm too harsh? Oh well.

In other news: the campaigns continue to rival Martini’s in shakery; I’m slowly coming up with a good, solid idea for a path; I leave for White Fish, Montana in less than 36 hours. Yes, that means I’ll be in fucking Montana, whose primary is June 2nd, for Super Tsunami Tuesday, in what will be one of the most exciting days of my politically involved life.

I’m dying for Hilary, in fact I’ve already voted, but I could toast to Barack in November. In the meantime: this is politics baby, and the mud is in full swing. The question is: Who has the bigger shield?

My money’s on the Experience, not the Hope.

I’m expecting to report next week from the Big Sky State.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Year's Worth of Shit

I’m going to use this first official blog entry of 2008 as a springboard for motivation into a New Year that seems yet to yield any promising outcomes. Though I’m still optimistic, I’m stepping tepidly. Furthermore, considering my lackluster and lethargic state, your bets are as good as mine on the future. But nevertheless, here we are and there’s not a damn thing one can do about a year’s end whilst the new begins.

I’ll start with a warning: this is not your People Magazine,, Tabloid, random year in review; it’s mine. Just didn’t want you to get too far ahead in case you want to turn back.

I’ve been pretending to conjure up themes, ideas, or a plot for this ’07 wrap up/’08 outlook, but nothing fluid came to mind. Hence the reason I’m just chugging forward; dancing about the keyboard as I usually do, only this time with a whole year’s worth of happenings to consider instead of perhaps a moment’s recap.

The last time I did a year in review was January of 2007…only but a year ago, right around the one-year anniversary of my departure for Semester at Sea (It’s posted on Facebook, not my blog). Now, 2007 was not nearly as admirable for traveling purposes—but it certainly did have its stints. Looking into 2008, travel seems to be the lacuna thus smoldering the prospects of a year of adventure and one to look forward too. Granted, I leave for Montana in about two weeks, but there are no cemented plans for an international excursion in 2008, only talk that translates to hearsay.

Two thousand and seven, with all its 52 weeks and 365 days, seemed to progress in an anti-climatic fashion. The presidential primaries and all the 2007 ebullient hype didn’t occur until after the strike of twelve on the 31st; the Democrats, with almost a full year under their belt of majority rule in both houses of Congress, have yet to make their mark on 6 prior years of sordid, ignorant, intolerant, incongruous, unjustifiably conservative, arcane rule under the unctuous George W. Bush—Christ, they couldn’t even muster the votes to override W’s veto of a children’s health care bill; in fashion, Marc Jacobs ruled the global runways for not only his two personal lines, but also for Louis Vuitton, one of the world’s most revered, sought after luxury labels that has survived more than 100 years; on the environmental front, I’m not sure there was one positive or inspiring tidbit about the state of our planet, other than maybe China and the US coming to the table for the Bali talks for a Kyoto-like treaty, though their presence was more a prick in the side of eco-friendly Europeans and newly green Australians—not to mention all the island states who are absolutely horrified for the warming prospects of the future.

That’s enough of that.

As for a year in positive review: I finished my undergraduate education on time and with what I’ll call flying colors. And though that was a mild shock considering my severe senioritis, constant “negative” peer pressure, numerous and seemingly non-stop adventures rife with bibulous activity, I, excuse me—We—all prevailed from a year ending with an odd number. Though I’m not sure there’s relevance, I’ve always been more a fan of the even rather than the odd, though I’m not really sure why. Anywho, I digress. My spring semester was definitely one of the best. I loved my bi-weekly rants in the Pace Press about school politics and whatever else I felt like incorporating. It was also a great year in achievements for Pace in Model United Nations. Perhaps it’s because I was a contributing factor to the team’s successful sweep at the conference/competition, it also furthered my love and lust for socialism: we proudly and profoundly represented The Republic of Cuba. And we did it with all the zeal and vigor the United States pretends to exude when it comes to spreading democracy and freedom throughout the rebellious world. Regardless, the PaceNY teams took outstanding delegation in all nine committee’s, we raked in awards for seven of nine position papers, and I along with 7 others received Outstanding Delegate awards. Sorry if I sound like I’m tooting—frankly, I kinda am. We fucking rocked and you can take that shit to the bank.

It was a tremendous feeling of achievement, and I am so proud to have been apart of it. I believe finishing college, with the MUN victory as the cherry, will only be topped by my graduate and PhD completion, which looms somewhere in the years before I’m 40.

As for my time after graduation, it was a shitshow free-for-all. From the night before graduation to the days immediately after, errantly cavorting whilst rampantly trysting about Turkey and Greece, to my graduation party all topped off by a summer of being unemployed, not to mention the random jaunts up and down the east coast; it was most definitely a summer for the story books. And then there was my official return from summering in CT back to urban life in my very own atelier in Harlem. Then the three weeks of unemployment in the city before running back to the florist I worked at during the springtime, to Maroon5 and the holidays, to landing my very own client for free-lance floral design, to promptly being fired for landing that very client.

That, my friends, is one fuck of a year in a nutshell—and just think, that is only up to 22 Dec 07, the morning I was relieved of my position at Adore Floral Inc.

Which is a story I was never able to tell, so I’ll give a quick prĂ©cis:

Rewind to the very beginning of December. I had five lobbies to decorate for Goldman Properties, all commission jobs through work for the holidays, and of course, they all had to be done in less than a week’s time. Goldman’s newest building is 25 Bond, where there are nine floors and ten units, seven of which are spoken for, and only two of them are currently housing occupants.

Well, there I was, decorating the 12 foot tree by myself when I was approached by a very nice lady who wondered if my company did in-home tree decorating (using the person’s ornaments) and also in-home floral design (using the person’s containers or vases). I explained that it was not something the company typically does but that I would be happy to do it on my own time considering my experience in doing so and also that I only worked part time for Adore. Well, I was just elated. My very own client.

Well, since I was paid under the table at work and had never signed any sort of contractual agreement for Adore, I saw nothing wrong, nor did anyone I know, with me taking on a client. So, I got them a tree and decorated it. Now, fast forward to about three weeks after that, 21 Dec 07 to be exact.

I had to swing by to check on the tree and to also bring some flowers. It was a Thursday and I was planning on Christmas shopping the rest of the day. The day before I mentioned to the bosses that the flowers in the lobby at 25 Bond (which are replaced on Friday’s) looked absolutely horrific. Wednesday was busy so I never got over there to change them. Well, there I was, done with my work at my client’s pad, so down the elevator I went and into the lobby I landed. Holy shit. There’s the boss changing the flowers in the lobby and here I am coming off the elevator that only leads directly into resident’s homes. My excuse was semi-believable, as I had mentioned to them there was someone who did have questions about a tree and us decorating it.

I made it seem like nothing and that it was something I’d scheduled the day before and that there was nothing work could do—this was certainly not the way I needed them finding out about my jobs on the side. Well, I went on with my day, slightly, but not really worried. The next morning, I woke and took a shower. When I got out, I noticed work had called and left me a voicemail.

I promptly listened to it. It was Jack, my boss, telling me I no longer work at Adore and that they are very upset with what I did to them. Yes people, this was done on a fucking voicemail. I was fired via voicemail. Not in person, not even over the phone directly talking to me—VIA VOICEMAIL. Well, I was in such a state of shock that I wasn’t even going to bother calling about my paycheck. But then I added up the hours, got some guts from my mother and balls from my father, not to mention Roger pestering me to call and get what I was entitled too, had a glass of wine and a hit or two off a bowl, and called to “tie up loose ends” as I so aptly put it.

I let him know the hours I’d worked and that all I would need my paycheck. He said that was fine, and that was that. Short and concise, brief but polite. Then I got a phone call a few minutes later. He just wanted to double check hours and get my address. After giving him the information he wanted, he posed two questions: “Jeffrey, I just want to know, do you really think you should be paid?” Well, I was stunned. I said I absolutely felt I should get paid because I worked those 30 hours for you and only you, you son of a bitch (I surprisingly held my tongue and temper—you can thank the wine and weed). His next question: “So you’re really going to be able to live with yourself after what you did to us? I mean, you broke a business principle.” Well, this one pressed me a bit and I did go off, but for only a second. I told him we’re not even going to get into business principles because he has none and after that realized I owed him none of this. I simply said, “Jack, I’m not here to justify anything nor am I asking for my job back. If you wanted to ask me questions, maybe you shouldn’t have up and fired me. All I expect is a paycheck.” And that, my friends, was that.

I’m happy to report that I did receive the paycheck just a few days ago, so that was great. Sadly though, I liked my job and thoroughly enjoyed my bosses. (It’s a couple that own this little shop; he’s Chinese and she’s Japanese—I know, fucking weird, right?) Anyway, it was sort of a blessing in disguise for the holiday season. I had my time at home to enjoy my most favorite time of year for the festiveness, the decorating and the entertaining.

Christmas was great and New Year’s was even better. And of course I did my annual five-mile run ending with an icy plunge into Long Island Sound on 1 January 2008 and it was fantastic. It is, I’ve found, a fabulous was to start off a New Year, feeling refreshed and cleansed of a previous year’s worth of sin. I don’t do confession and I don’t do religion, so for me, it is absolutely fitting. A plunge and splash in the Sea.

But then there’s all the happenings that will carry over into ought eight. Perhaps most notably, for me anyway, is Pakistan. Of course there’s the rest of the Middle East and all its turmoil too, but what occurred there only a few weeks ago was a tragic blow to a semi-stable region in a tumultuous place of the world.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was murdered after returning to Pakistan from eight years of self-imposed exile to her home country that has been under military dictatorship for the better part of the millennium—this same military dictatorship is avidly defended and enhanced by the freedom touting United States, too. Now, many people had their problems with Bhutto; it was indeed understandable considering her two stints as Prime Minister were filled with corruption charges and sneaky governance.

A good friend of mine, Neelofer, whose roots hail directly from Pakistan had her say (which you should read here:
Another one Bites the Dust and also Knowledge Will Save Us All ), but I must most respectfully disagree with her on a few fronts. I say this because my perspective is political and impersonal, fueled mostly by my love for the Middle East and desire for its safe stabilization; hers is personally political, giving it a far more poignant and stinging ring.

Nevertheless, I was and still am deeply saddened by her assassination. For this was a woman who was elected for the first time at the age of 35 in Pakistan—granted it was on the coattails of her martyred father—but a woman, who was at one point pregnant in office, in the Middle East, in 1988! Can the tide be more bucked than that? Then she was elected again a few years later, only to be ousted on corruption charges. Her goal this time around was democracy (there was a lot more to it than just that, but I’m truly making a concerted effort to stay light), something most Pakistanis got a mild taste of from Musharraf, but the ideology was never thought completely palatable by this conniving ruler.

Then look at where Pakistan stands today: The US touts it as its closets ally in the War on Terror because of its geographic location; since 2001, more than $10 billion in aid has been funneled there which was supposed to be used to enhance military presence in the northwestern territory, Al-Queda and Taliban strong holds. However, evidence is claming that it has instead been used to beef up it’s southeastern border with rivaling India. Furthermore, the current leader, Musharraf, imposed Marshall Law for nearly a month before lifting the ban. Let’s not forget that he also cleaned house in the Supreme Court because he didn’t like the power and independence of the Judiciary. And yet the US has stood proudly by his militant side, reassuring the world that a good relationship with Pakistan is necessary to take down terrorism in the Middle East.

I find this truly nauseating. I could go on about this topic for quite sometime, but there are still a few more things I’d like to get to—and I’ve already gone on long enough.

My guess is that most people have forgotten yet again about Iran. They’ve seemed to slip under the radar. Between the violence in Kenya and Al-Queda activity in Northern Africa, sky rocketing oil prices and a very shaky, on-the-verge-of-recession US economy, there’s reason to overlook, but not forget.

It seems W’s policy of ignoring our enemies and using diplomacy as a last resort, if at all, has our adversaries building their own coalitions. Iran and Russia are now buddy-buddy. China continues to help squelch the people of Burma whilst raping it for its resources. And good ol’ Chavez was not only told to shut-up by the King of Spain, but he continues to be a throbbing thorn in the side of US foreign policy: Citgo, the state run Venezuelan oil company is yet again supplying reduced-cost and at times free heating oil to people all over the Northeastern United States. Just check out some of their operations:
Citgo and the Bronx. This though, I must admit is beautiful. Absolute brilliance on the part of a leader who uses oil and socialism to annoy and pester a Nation in a way it can’t refuse.

Then there’s Iowa. I was shocked, not by the results, but what it could actually mean. The fact that a very white, very rural state overwhelming supported a black man is amazing. That’s not to say he’s my first choice, in fact he’s not even really my second, it is nonetheless amazing. As for the Repubo’s—I’m just thrilled about what Huckabee (and Chuck Norris), that ignorant preacher from Arkansas, is doing to the GOP. My hope is that he gets the full nomination because if he does, christ, even Dennis Kucinich could beat him in the general election. But at the same time I’m getting nervous: McCain, a very viable candidate for the general election, could make some serious moves if he bodes well in NH, as he also did in 2000. Then you’ve got Guliani to worry about in Florida, and that crazy flip-flopping Mormon, too. (Whom, if you didn’t know, won in the little heard of Wyoming Republican caucus two days after Iowa.)

Hillary is salting and licking her wounds as Edwards furthers his pointedly populist agenda. Which, I must admit, I am falling very fast for. Obama keeps taking half-ass swipes at the Clinton’s for continuing to steel his pitches for change and tolerance, while Richardson, barely holds on. I vote in the Connecticut primary on 5 February, along with 22 other states that day. I’m currently on the fence and quite obdurate at the moment as to whom I’m going to throw my hat in for, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So here we are. A year has gone by. I visited, by far, one of the greatest places on earth and I hark back to it daily. Istanbul, by far, was my absolute highlight for the year. Perhaps it was the drugs and the trysts, or maybe it was the sights and the culture, I’m not really sure. All I do know is that I will return there in due time, and I will do so again and again for the rest of my life. I’m not ruling out dwelling there for quite some time either. It was a year of great laughs (my parents doing dueling keg stands) and striking blows (US mortgage crisis), good friends and new experiences.

There’s not much to complain about for ’07, but then again, there’s nothing to preach or scream about too much either.

It was a year, and we’re all older now, more learned also I hope.

As for 2008, I’m hoping to find a job; I’d also like to hit up Spain with my dear friend Amanda, but that’s all on the backs of getting a good job. I’d like to get a step closer to my 40-year-old goal. Whether that means simply figuring out if I’ll stay in the city for more schooling or run overseas for it—which also depends on that whole job thing—I hope to have a better, more 17th Century Dutch-like painted image for my future, rather than a 19th Century Impressionist idea and view. As for politics: I’m not even going there…yet, anyways.

Good luck in all that you do for the coming year.
Be well.
Drink up.
And goddamnit, don’t forget to laugh.